Whose fault is it anyway?

14 March 2020

by Hazel Bacon

The Government has just announced new legislation designed to bring about a momentous change to overhaul and update divorce law, with the intention of reducing family conflict.

The move towards a “no-fault divorce” is expected to be introduced within the next three months.

There is at present only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. That is in turn demonstrated by reference to showing one of five facts, namely:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Desertion (over two years)
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation without the need for consent.

In fact, research has shown that the nine most common reasons for divorces are (not in order):

  • Money
  • Affairs
  • Interfering ex-partners
  • Incompatible libido
  • Children from previous relationships
  • Interfering parents
  • Differences in resolving conflict (including violence)
  • Differences in communication (e.g. one very open, one very withdrawn)
  • Confidential information (e.g. sharing relationship secrets with others)

Under the new reforms the parties will still have to demonstrate an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, but this will be done by giving notice (either unilaterally or jointly) that the marriage is over, thereby removing the blame game. As well as removing a great deal of unnecessary division and bitterness between the parties, it should also put an end to the charade of couples making up allegations in order to satisfy one or other of the specified “facts”.

The other party will no longer have the right to contest that the marriage has broken down.

The minimum time frame will be six months from petition (start) to decree absolute (end).

This important change will also remove, or at least reduce, children’s exposure to the damaging impact of conflict between their parents.

Some are concerned that making the divorce process easier will mean more people will choose to end their marriages. I cannot imagine anyone choosing to divorce purely because it is now easier than it used to be.

Streamlining the process to avoid apportioning blame facilitates a more co-operative and less acrimonious resolution when, as inevitably happens, marriages come to an end, rather than undermining the institution of marriage itself.

Resolution is an organisation which is, as the name suggests, committed to non-confrontational divorce. The divorce and family lawyers at Canter Levin & Berg are members of Resolution and adhere to this approach, while not compromising on financial settlements and arrangements concerning children.

If you are contemplating a divorce or if you simply want some general advice, why not call us free on 0800 038 7171 or complete our online enquiry form. Remember, we offer fixed fee consultations for just £120 including VAT and fixed fees for representation in divorce and associated financial and children proceedings.


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